SEPTA, the beleaguered southeastern Pennsylvania rail system, has put some new cars — Silverliner V is the name — into service on some regional rail lines. There’s more leg room than in the older cars, which means that there’s room for me, and Basil, in the space of my seat alone:
As I have short, small, legs, your mileage may vary.
Cars are generally in good shape on the line I ride most often, which is far from the city. The new cars offer some improvements, though, specifically the automated station announcements, and the LED screens which show which station the train is next. (Oddly, though, when the train is slowing, and in each station, the only thing the LED screen shows is the mightily unhelpful “SEPTA”. That would be easy and cheap to remedy; the wonder is that anyone thought it was a good idea in the first place.) SEPTA conductors, while often pleasant, are not known for their clarity of speech, or willingness to announce each station audibly.
There’s plenty of room for compact Basil, even in the standard seating areas. There’s a different configuration on the Silverliner V, one I saw on a previous trip, with seating along the side of the car, rather than perpendicular to it. That’s an even better place for a folding bicycle, especially if the train is full. I don’t know if that’s on all Silverliner Vs — I may have missed that section of the car on this particular trip.
There’s been much speculation that the new cars will draw new riders. I don’t know about that, but I wish SEPTA would reverse a change made a while ago, when they stopped using route numbers for the various train lines. Now, new users can’t simply be told “take the R4 — (for Regional Rail, route 4) — but they must know the terminal points of whatever line they need, no matter how irrelevant to their own trip. That was a move of supreme idiocy, and likely to make using the line much more difficult for both tourists, and inexperienced SEPTA riders alike.
The new cars, though, look like an improvement, for reals.